Workplace social media policies - four common misconceptions

digital composite of hands using notebook with graphics

digital composite of hands using notebook with graphics

Published Jul 18, 2023


Mkhuseli Vangile

In simple terms, a workplace social media policy is a document that outlines the code of conduct for all stakeholders in an organisation; aiming to protect and enhance the organisation’s reputation.

In today’s digital era, social media has become an essential aspect of both our personal and professional lives. As social media platforms continue to evolve and expand, they offer numerous advantages for businesses, such as enhanced communication, brand promotion and customer engagement. Nevertheless, unrestricted employee utilisation of social media can also bring about significant hazards, including harm to reputation, breaches of confidentiality, and potential legal complications. Hence, it is crucial for every business to possess a social media policy.

According to EnterpriseAppToday, a significant portion (77%) of workers engage in social media activities during work hours, with a vast majority (98%) using social media for personal reasons. Given the widespread influence of social media platforms, businesses must establish a well-defined social media policy to govern its use in the workplace. However, it is crucial to dispel common misconceptions and ensure that such policies respect employee freedoms while safeguarding the organisation’s reputation and progress.

Here are the four most crucial misconceptions about workplace social media policies:

1. It suppresses freedom of expression

When workplace social media policies are introduced, stakeholders often perceive it as a violation of their freedom of expression. This misconception arises because these policies typically outline what is considered acceptable or unacceptable to post on social media. However, a workplace social media policy is designed to protect the brand’s reputation and ensure that everyone upholds the organisation’s values, even in their personal social media spaces.

2. It applies only to employees

A workplace social media policy extends to all stakeholders of the company, not just employees. It should address suppliers, customers/clients, employees, executive management, the board of directors, shareholders, and other relevant parties. Since these stakeholders have different roles within the organisation, the policy should specify the code of conduct for each group. It cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach.

3. It remains unchanged over time

Many brands have social media policies that were written years ago and have not been updated for a long time. However, a workplace social media policy should be flexible and adaptable to the fast-paced digital world. Codes of conduct from five years ago may no longer be relevant today, and what is feasible today may change in the future. Therefore, a workplace social media policy should be regularly monitored and updated to reflect evolving circumstances and needs.

4. WhatsApp is excluded from the policy

Although WhatsApp is not typically defined as a social media channel and lacks the same functionality, it has the potential to cause similar damage to a brand as platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, it is crucial to include a code of conduct for WhatsApp when drafting a workplace social media policy.

In conclusion, it is advisable to involve an expert to ensure practicality and measurable success in your workplace social media policy. Writing the policy is the first phase, followed by ensuring that it is well-known by all relevant stakeholders. The final and crucial phase is its adoption and implementation to establish an effective workplace social media policy.

  • Mkhuseli Vangile is the founder and MD at The Dynaste Communication Firm.